By Tendai Kamhungira
A Harare man, Tofara Dube, has launched a website that provides mathematics tutorials in local languages.
He said the move is part of efforts to assist students in easily grasping the subject’s key concepts.
This follows the introduction of a new education curriculum, which demands that children in Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres must be taught all subjects in local languages.
“It is against this background that I decided to introduce my website — www.idadi.co.zw — to make people understand that it is actually possible to learn mathematics in vernacular,” said Dube, an accountant by profession.
“My aim is to have all the African languages in vernacular and I have started with Shona. I realised that all these African countries have a problem in numbers, because in some languages they simply end at the figure 1 000 and cannot go beyond that using their local languages,” he said.
Early this year, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora told the State media that, “the medium of communication or instruction for infants or our ECD is supposed to be the mother language. This will ensure children feel at home during lessons and that they express themselves freely”.
Dube said he invented some of the words used on his website, even though they are wholly based on the Shona language and not confined to a specific dialect.
On the website, Dube has a list of numbers that he has translated into Shona.
Some of the words he translated include fraction, which he said in Shona means kadimbu, percentage, dzepazana and decimals, mahwando.
Dube said he decided to use the word Idadi, which is a Swahili term that means numbers, in order to make the website pan-African.
He said most developed countries in the world use their local languages, which he argued has been lacking in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular.
“All the developed countries learn through their mother tongue. In Africa, we are lagging behind and we are the only ones that do not learn in our mother language. That is reason why maybe we are lagging behind,” Dube, who is a published author and an inventor, said.
In Zimbabwe, most subjects are taught in English.
Because of the use of English, many have been failing to comprehend issues at school, as it is their second language.
Dube said this is a limiting factor in education sector, which can be improved through the use of local languages.
He said that right now he is working on Ndebele before he works on Zulu and Swahili, as he attempts to spread the programme across Africa.
“I once uploaded the website in 2014 and stopped because I was using a lot of money.
“I then started the programme again last month after the government spoke about the new curriculum for students to learn some of these technical subjects in vernacular,” Dube said, adding that he is running the project using his own personal funds. Daily News